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Cantonese Fried Rice (BETTER than Takeout!)

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Fried rice just like at your favorite Chinese restaurant! Use your leftover rice, add some ham, carrots, peas, corn, onion, and fried onions and fry it in a flavorful sauce. Drizzle some sriracha on top and there you have the perfect combination for your fried rice craving.

cantonese fried rice with eggs, corn, peas, carrots, ham

Shall we go grab some Chinese takeaway for dinner?

Mhhh that’s tempting… but I don’t really feel like going out, how about just staying home and making quick fried rice with yesterday’s leftover rice?!

I ♡ rice! I ♡ fried rice! Every now and then I’ve got a craving for it but being quite picky when it comes to rice in general, it’s not rare for me to be disappointed with fried rice from new restaurants or takeaways I’m trying. Sometimes too dry, too salty, or not tasty enough. So when I find a place that makes the perfect fried rice, I’m all over the moon : )

Two years ago, I went on a one-week trip to New York with a girlfriend of mine. We ended up eating out every single day, just to try local food AND Asian food in the States – I usually try Asian food everywhere I go.

We found this small Japanese restaurant a few steps away from where we were staying, and I have to say their salmon fried rice was the best I’ve had. I’ve called it the “NYC Japanese fried rice”. So much that we went back there the day before leaving, just to have it one last time. Since then, I have tried several combinations to get a result as close as possible to that dish and finally found a close match!

The trick is to:

  • 1. use short-grain rice (Korean or Japanese rice) which has a more bouncy texture, rather than long-grain rice; and
  • 2. add mirin (Japanese rice wine) to the soy sauce/oyster sauce combination. That really does the trick, and this totally makes sense since short-grain rice and mirin are both Japanese ingredients. Hence close to that fried rice I had in NYC : )

I adapted my salmon version into the traditional Cantonese fried rice made with eggs, corn, peas, carrots, onion, and fried onions (for a crunchy touch) which take place in most of my fried rice recipes.

What are the main ingredients to make Cantonese Fried Rice?

  • Rice – you can use pretty much any type of rice. For most fried rice dishes, as I mentioned earlier my personal preference goes for short-grain rice to get that moist and bouncy texture. And how convenient for us who always have a bag of Korean rice around.
  • Eggs – I add black pepper and a pinch of soy sauce (instead of salt) to season the scrambled eggs.
  • Onion – in this recipe I used minced onion. You can also use green onion as a substitute. Or both together but then I don’t recommend adding the fried onion. Just to avoid ending up with an “onion fried rice” rather than Cantonese fried rice.
  • Carrot – chop the carrot into very small dice (approx 0.5 cm). Don’t make them too big, they should be the size of peas, ham and corn so that you keep the harmony : )
  • Garlic – mince or crush the garlic.
  • Ham – either buy some ham already diced or get a big piece of ham and chop it into very small dice (approx 0.5 cm).
  • Frozen peas – using frozen peas to stir fry is best, as opposed to canned peas which tend to have a softer texture.
  • Corn – can’t omit corn in Cantonese fried rice, right? Canned corn or frozen corn is great!
  • Fried onions – this is optional, but my craze for fried onions in fried rice is too immense! If you add them at the very last minute before serving, it brings you this crunchy onion taste. I love it!
  • Sriracha (for serving) – this is optional, but gives this spicy kick to your fried rice. I never eat Cantonese fried rice without sriracha unless I’m eating out and the restaurant doesn’t have it. To me, sriracha just makes the difference between fried rice and FRIED RICE. But if you’re not a fan of spicy stuff, better skip it.

For the sauce:

  • Mirin (Japanese rice wine)- as I mentioned earlier, try it with and without and you’ll see the difference. Mirin brings this very subtle sweetness to the rice.
  • Oyster sauce – not to be omitted in Cantonese fried rice.
  • Light soy sauce – make sure not to use dark soy sauce. Dark soy sauce will make your entire dish way too salty. Trust my experience.
  • Sesame oil – sesame oil always gives a nice flavor to fried rice.
  • Black pepper powder – I usually go for black pepper powder to season my sauce rather than regular black pepper. It blends better.

What to serve with?

Fried rice is great for lunch, dinner, and breakfast, as a dish per se. Or as a side with meat, fish, tofu, pretty much in combination with anything you like to pair it with.

Which wok/pan to use?

A carbon steel wok is the traditional way to make fried rice, but if not in hand don’t hesitate to go ahead and use a regular non-stick wok. A cast iron skillet will give you a very similar result as if using a carbon steel wok. Alternatively, use any big pan you have.

How to prepare Cantonese Fried Rice?

  1. Cook 2 rice cooker cups of rice in your rice cooker. For short-grain rice, use a rice/water ratio of 1:1 ¼.
  2. Refrigerate rice for half a day to one day – prepare it the previous day to the extent of possible and leave it in the refrigerator for one day. Rice must be cold to avoid getting mushy once we stir fry it in the wok.
  3. Chop onion and carrots into small dice.
  1. Beat the eggs with a pinch of black pepper and soy sauce.
  1. Make the sauce by combining all sauce ingredients together.
  1. Heat up 1 tbsp cooking oil in a wok on medium-high heat, and add onion and minced garlic. Cook for 30 seconds.
  1. Add diced carrots and ham. Cook for 30 seconds.
  1. Slide everything to one side, add 1 tbsp cooking oil and pour the eggs. Keep stirring to make scrambled eggs.
  1. Once the eggs are cooked, add frozen peas and corn. Stir fry everything for 30 seconds until the peas defrost.
  1. Add cold rice, mix it in with all vegetables then pour half the sauce. Stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the other half of the sauce and keep stir-frying for 1-2 min until some rice bits get fried.
  1. Before serving, mix in fried onions with the fried rice.
  1. For serving, sprinkle 1 tbsp fried onion and sriracha on top. This is optional but makes this fried rice amazing.

Looking for more rice dinner ideas?

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fried rice fried in a wok with diced ham, carrots, peas, onion, corn and fried onion

Cantonese Fried Rice

Fried rice just like at your favorite Chinese restaurant! Use your leftover rice, add some ham, carrots, peas, corn, onion, and fried onions and fry it in a flavorful sauce. Drizzle some sriracha on top and there you have the perfect combination for your fried rice craving.
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 24 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories per serving: 618kcal
Author: Emma Choi

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 320 g (2 rice cooker cups) short grain rice – one day old
  • ½ big onion, chopped
  • 1 big carrot, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 125 g ham, diced
  • 140 g frozen peas
  • 140 g corn
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 40 g fried onion | optional
  • sriracha | for serving – optional

Scrambled eggs

  • 3 eggs
  • black pepper
  • ¼ tsp soy sauce

Sauce

Instructions

  • Cook 2 rice cooker cups of rice in your rice cooker. For short-grain rice, use a rice/water ratio of 1:1 ¼.
  • Refrigerate rice for half a day to one day – prepare it the previous day to the extent of possible and leave it in the refrigerator for one day. Rice must be cold to avoid getting mushy once we stir fry it in the wok.
  • Chop onion and carrots into small dice.
  • Beat the eggs with a pinch of black pepper and soy sauce.
  • Make the sauce by combining all sauce ingredients together.
  • Heat up 1 tbsp cooking oil in a wok on medium-high heat, and add onion and minced garlic. Cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add diced carrots and ham. Cook for 30 seconds.
  • Slide everything to one side, add 1 tbsp cooking oil and pour the eggs. Keep stirring to make scrambled eggs.
  • Once the eggs are cooked, add frozen peas and corn. Stir fry everything for 30 seconds until the peas defrost.
  • Add cold rice, mix it in with all vegetables then pour half the sauce. Stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the other half of the sauce and keep stir-frying for 1-2 min until some rice bits get fried.
  • Before serving, mix in fried onions with the fried rice.
  • For serving, sprinkle 1 tbsp fried onion and sriracha on top. This is optional but makes this fried rice amazing.

Notes

1. Rice quantity is measured in rice cooker cups, not in actual cups.
2. Rice: long-grain rice is typically used to make Cantonese fried rice however I personally like to use short-grain rice (Korean/Japanese). It makes the fried rice more moist and bouncy and overall tastier – to me 🙂
It is also important for your rice to be well refrigerated beforehand. It will resist the heat when stir-fried and won’t get mushy.
3. If not using a wok, the best alternative is a cast iron skillet with which you would obtain a very similar result. Otherwise, use a pan but the rice will not be fried the same way. Depending on the wok you use, adjust the heating. Medium-high heat is great for a non-stick Tefal wok or cast iron skillet while for a traditional carbon steel wok, you may want to reduce the heat to medium as it is very powerful.
4. DO NOT use dark soy sauce, your fried rice sauce would end up way too strong and salty. Make sure to use LIGHT soy sauce.
5. Frozen peas are best for fried rice. Their texture is more appropriate than canned peas.
6. Fried rice can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in an airtight container.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1 servingCalories: 618kcalCarbohydrates: 92gProtein: 21gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 140mgSodium: 1941mgPotassium: 415mgFiber: 5gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 3087IUVitamin C: 18mgCalcium: 68mgIron: 3mg
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